ONE IF, A Virago Fantasy. Metropolitan Publishing copyright and written by Carol B. Allen.
The story: A young teen-age Parker Kittredge is fascinated by a hummingbird that seemingly tries to get her attention through the window of her high-rise apartment. She opens the door onto the balcony where she slips and falls over the railing. She blanks out only to regain consciousness in a strange place in the sky where she meets Stefanos, a huge Eagle who is the Sky King, speaks perfect English and is introduced to the fact that she now is in Spyridon, a land like earth, in the same galaxy but on a different time line and unseen by planet earth. The inhabitants are like humans but because their planet is disintegrating they have had gradually to transform to this bird-like form to survive. She has been kidnapped because the country’s ruling body believed Earth children might be able to help them to survive. The children, after providing the help would be returned actually with no time lapse between leaving and returning because of the time difference. More children arrive but refuse to stay and help and are returned immediately except for Henley, a rather obnoxious girl about her own age and Edison, a dark skinned boy of similar age who seems attached to Henley. These three first are given a tour of the country by riding on the backs of severe-looking Falcons. First stop is Katamoor, the largest and last remaining real land mass on the continent on Spyridon and the most sacred place on their planet where the abundant and mangrove-like Virago trees house the ancestral spirits of these inhabitants of ‘the Upperworld’.
Next stop, the Citadel which is the Sky King’s Castle. Here Belliza, their kindly little hummingbird usual guide tells them they are to be introduced to the Great Onez, azzaviorz (apparently all s’s are z’s in her speech) of the planet. The celebration is the expected beginning of no shortage of clean water, food, etc. but rather a bright future because of arrival of the three children who would be able to solve why their water supply was turning bad and other problems.
At the celebration there is a big explosion with the deaths of a large number of the huge group of inhabitants that have gathered for the celebration. It is here the reader learns of the Underworld, a second part of the kingdom which lies beneath the Spyridon Sea. The underworld leaders are Empress Diadora and her brother Commanding General Pantione. They had fought a vicious war twenty years ago which the Upperworld had won, but supposedly both worlds wanted to keep the status quo. Though they had thought their water toxicity was just the environment, on testing they discovered traces of poison so they are suffering at the hands of a very clever and careful evil person. Stefanos depends upon his cousin, an old falcon named Vibius, who suspects the Underworld is beginning another war. The Earth children also meet
Great Cole, a young man who can live in both worlds (as can other earth people before they become adults). He came from earth as a child, is Parker’s age, blond, handsome and covered with soft golden feathers like a soft down and has wings that fit closely into his back. He tells Stefanos he doesn’t think the Underworld wants war but will discover the truth. The story continues with fast action portraying dystrophic results that can be avoided if there is a continuation of similar activities on Earth as a lesson that can be instilled in young minds. The climax is fascinating and could present many possibilities for future volumes.
Discussion: An interestingly written fantasy that should provide appealing thoughts for young minds developing in this period of extensive discussion on earth’s problems and the manner in which its inhabitants have, and are continuing to treat it.
5* Thoughtful lessons delivered for teens in a very enjoyable fantasy.